Ford Announces $1.6 Billion Investment in Mexico

Ford announces $1.6 billion investment in Mexico, derided by Trump

A Ford logo is pictured at a store of the automaker, in Mexico City, Mexico, April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

DETROIT/WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (F.N) on Tuesday announced it would invest $1.6 billion to build more small cars in Mexico, starting in 2018, triggering a fresh blast of criticism from Republican front-runner Donald Trump. Read more of this post

Empty Talk on Manufacturing

Empty talk on manufacturing

We need politicians willing to protect us from unfair trade.

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Honest Co. Faces Big Questions After Lawsuits

03-14-16 Honest

Honest Co. headquarters in Santa Monica. The company, launched five years ago, pledged to “build a culture of honesty.” (Emily Berl)

When Honest Co. launched five years ago, the Santa Monica firm targeted a market uncommon among start-ups: diapers. Read more of this post

Nabisco to Cut Chicago jobs, Send Some Work to Mexico

 

Nabisco to Cut Chicago jobs, Send Some Work to Mexico

Mondelez International (Nabisco) will lay off half of its 1,200 employees in its bakery on Chicago’s Southwest Side after deciding to make a major investment in a Mexico plant rather than its long-standing facility here. Read more of this post

Made in the U.S.A. Bucking a 30-year Trend

Jeremy Quittner | Inc.com

For Lumitec, a lighting product company in Delray Beach, Florida, manufacturing in the U.S. is essential, but so is exporting to clients overseas.

Lumitec’s products, which are designed for extreme environments, require exact specifications that need frequent product monitoring. So the lag time to make changes typically associated with manufacturing thousands of miles away in China is not an option. To accommodate these needs, Lumitec’s headquarters are in a 10,000-square foot facility that can handle the customization and assembly that clients require.

Lumitec is like an increasing number of small companies that are manufacturing in the United States, and bucking a 30-year trend of outsourcing such production overseas.

These companies find increased control, quality, and production standards domestically that may cancel out the cost savings that could come with manufacturing overseas. They are also turning the table on recent history in other ways, by exploiting sales in international markets, and uncovering opportunities by selling their goods to other countries in addition to domestically. They find the ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ stamp brings them unexpected cachet.

“We attend trade shows outside of the U.S. and people are always pleasantly surprised that we manufacture in the U.S.,” says John Kujawa, chief executive of Lumitec, which exports its lighting products to more than 30 countries. “it is understood that many products manufactured in the U.S. are greater quality than those from certain other countries.”

John Kujawa founded Delray Beach, FL – based Lumitec Inc.

Manufacturing businesses have added 500,000 jobs in the United States since 2009, though the sector has a lot of ground to make up, having lost 2.3 million jobs since the start of the recession. States that led the way were Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Texas, and Illinois, which combined added a quarter of a million of those jobs over the same period.

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Made in USA (Again): Why Manufacturing Is Coming Home

Eric Markowitz | Inc.com staff

Mismanaged supply chain decisions sent manufacturing overseas. But the industry has changed direction.

Returning to America: Zentech Manufacturing, a contract manufacturer based in Baltimore, is seeing more and more companies return their manufacturing to America.

When Anton Bakker launched his company, Offsite Networks, in 1999, he had no intention of manufacturing overseas. But a few years later, when his company began taking on larger orders, he began looking for cheaper supply alternatives.

That’s when he went to China.

By the early 2000s, Chinese contract manufacturers had become increasingly equipped to handle the type of advanced manufacturing that Offsite was producing—point-of-sale hardware for store loyalty programs, like high-tech printers and scanners. So in 2004, the company, which is based in Norfolk, Virgnia, canceled contracts with domestic suppliers and moved 90 percent of its manufacturing to suppliers based in China, Malaysia, and Tokyo. For the most part, Bakker was satisfied.

“The scale drove us to look for more competitive, cost-effective products,” Bakker says. “I had a difficult time doing that domestically. We found that the products were just not competitive in terms of pricing, and we could find them at less than half the price overseas.”

That narrative—of outsourcing, offshoring, and finding cheaper suppliers overseas—is not a new story.

But then something unexpected happened. In 2011, Offsite Networks moved their manufacturing back to America, finding a domestic supplier, Zentech Manufacturing, based in Baltimore, to carry out the company’s orders.

So what changed?

Bakker tells me the company returned for a variety of reasons. It was becoming more affordable to manufacture locally, he says, and American technology had improved rapidly. This meant that labor costs, which had initially driven Bakker to find cheap work overseas, were a smaller percentage of total costs. Meanwhile, an increase in other costs—like shipping, for instance—had increased. In other words, it was cheaper to manufacture locally.

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What Does the Future Hold for American Manufacturing?

The state of US manufacturing is likely to become a major campaign issue - Getty Images

The state of US manufacturing is likely to become a major campaign issue - Getty Images

Written by: BBC North America editor, Mark Mardell 

Drew Greenblatt is an enthusiast: proud of his company, Marlin Steel, and proud of the factory floor packed with state-of-the-art equipment.

I watch, fascinated, as a little white robot squeezes out a wire, putting kinks and bends in it as it emerges.

Then it hands it over to a slightly larger yellow robot, which holds it steady for a twist in the end before turning it over for another twist at the other end.

Oddly, I find this cutting-edge equipment rather cute and cartoonish.

The question is whether this endearing duo are merely the remnants of America’s industrial past or the sort of equipment that will make the USA world-beaters once again.

The factory floor space at Marlin Steel is being doubled and there is no doubt the company is doing well, prospering even, during the bad years. Read more of this post

FDA Says Brazil’s Orange Juice Is Safe, But Still Illegal

 

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

NPR      by DAN CHARLES  February 22, 2012

If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal “tolerance” for residues of this pesticide in orange products. Read more of this post

How to Save U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

By Howard Wial @CNNMoney February 23, 2012: 5:34 AM ET

Howard Wial is a fellow for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

At first glance, manufacturing jobs would appear to be a dying breed.

The United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs between early 2001 and late 2009. And despite small gains during the last two years, the trend in manufacturing employment for the last 30 years has been downward.

That has led some to argue that long-term job loss in the industry is inevitable. But our research shows otherwise.

There are two common versions of the “inevitability” argument. One holds that U.S. manufacturing wages are too high to be internationally competitive. The other maintains that manufacturing job losses are the result of productivity growth. Both arguments are wrong. Read more of this post

How To Invest For Jobs Coming Back To U.S.

Brian Sozzi, Contributor   2/16/2012

The grand theme I want to put on the table is the concept of onshoring, sometimes called reshoring, which is the bringing back of U.S. jobs from overseas supply chains.

U.S. businesses have started to realize that while workers in far away lands garner miniscule wages compared to their U.S. counterparts, having operations outside of the country can be a strategic disadvantage.  The speed and structure in which information is consumed has caused U.S. consumers to demand top quality products and to want to buy them whenever they please.

Having a manufacturing plant domestically aids in the quicker movement of goods from design table to sales floor.  Furniture maker Ethan Allen is great example of a manufacturer producing most of its products in the U.S. and doing customization for clients, setting itself apart from price-point focused competitors.

Corporate managers are simply getting over their infatuation with cheap international labor and analyzing the total costs of doing business in the U.S. compared to say, China or India.

There is a dollop of icing on the cake here as well.  The topic of focusing on onshoring to boost employment levels seems to be an area of agreement between bickering Republicans and Democrats.  Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, for example, wants to zero out the U.S. corporate tax for manufacturers.

Anytime the major political parties agree on anything, even the slight thing, it’s cause to sit up and take notice from an investment standpoint.  The Donkeys and Elephants may be a little apart on how to precisely shepherd along the corporate onshoring interest, but at least they are talking the same language.  It’s high time they do find common ground if the following is to be reversed:

  • Manufacturing employment has fallen by approximately 37% since 1980.
  • According to a survey done by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, some 600,000 manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled due to a mismatch between job requirements and experience.

I have read a fair number of columns bantering about onshoring.  Is it overhyped?  Do we really need more jobs in the service sector U.S. economy?  The debates are almost endless.  Unfortunately, though, I have failed to stumble upon investment strategies to profit from onshoring, which has already begun to a certain extent, and could likely gain steam in the years ahead.

Buy-and-hold investors, this should be right in your wheelhouse: a highly probable future event to build positions around in companies with durable competitive advantages.

A few names that come to mind:

  • Waste Management: Owns 260 plus landfills and is the largest waste management business in the U.S.  More manufacturing production means more waste to be piled into the company’s green bins.
  • ADP: Benefits in two manners.  First, workers are hired to run new domestic manufacturing plants (hopefully by people that used the downturn to attain new technological skills).  Second, there should be a trickle down effect in the overall employment sector via a ramp in higher paying manufacturing jobs.
  • Dunkin Brands: “America Runs on Dunkin” as the brand’s slogan goes.  The company’s moat is not as wide as an ADP or Waste Management, but more U.S. manufacturers should mean more egg sandwiches (which Starbucks does not do superbly) and coffee.  Store penetration is increasing in areas of the country that are manufacturing oriented.
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